Behind The Headlines: Downtown restaurant closures, Gov. Nixon’s final year in office | St. Louis Public Radio

Behind The Headlines: Downtown restaurant closures, Gov. Nixon’s final year in office

Jan 22, 2016

In the second installment of the weekly ‘Behind the Headlines’ segment, “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh discussed three top news stories that caught St. Louisans’ attention this week, with the people that produced them and influenced them. 

Here’s what we talked about:

Downtown restaurant closures

Bob Ray
Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Bob Ray, the president of the Downtown St. Louis Restaurant and Bar Association as well owner of Washington Ave Post, discussed what’s going on behind-the-scenes in the downtown St. Louis restaurant scene as several high-profile restaurants close.

We asked which downtown restaurants you would feel the loss of on Twitter. Here's what we found: 

Many have pointed the finger to Ballpark Village as taking away business from dining establishments downtown.  

"In the past, a lot of these bars and restaurants opened up catering to St. Louis Cardinals fans and sports fans coming downtown before the game," he said. "When Ballpark Village opened up, it took a lot of that business away. If I had to compare it to something, it would be like if you had a downtown full of arcades and then suddenly put Disneyland in the middle of it, it will have a negative economic impact."

That means that businesses that relied on sports fans took a "gigantic hit," but those businesses that cater more to downtown St. Louis residents may not have been hurt quite as hard, Ray said. The influx of residents to downtown lofts and apartments has created a population that patronizes businesses catered to a residential population, Ray said. 

Ray said he would like to see more "mom and pop" restaurants open up in the area, although he believes Ikea's movement into the city signals the rise of more chain restaurants. He heard a Chipotle may open downtown. Meanwhile, local restaurateur Gerard Craft, is opening a fast-casual Italian restaurant called Porano

A perception of crime downtown continues to be an issue. Ray said that, as a transplant to St. Louis, the city has one of the safest downtown areas he has ever seen. He said that St. Louis County residents don't have the same perception.

"You're never going to get 100 percent safety downtown," he said. "But downtown itself, the residents that live there, it is a really safe community, I would compare it to Mayberry."

"The most important thing that we can do now as restaurants and as a downtown community is determine what's going to define downtown for the residents that live down there and for the tourist economy," Ray said. 

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s last year in office

Jo Mannies
Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Nixon this week gave his last State of the State Address. With his last year looming, what does he plan to do in it? St. Louis Public Radio’s political reporter Jo Mannies weighed in.

"I've known the guy, I've covered him as a reporter, since 1988 and he's never been a big risk-taker," said Mannies. "He is trying to have more of a bipartisan image."

Mannies said we should not take the safe-plays as a sign that Nixon would run for a higher office; he has not been raising enough money for that. She said she believes Nixon will look for an appointment from the Democratic party to one of the causes he's aided over the years. 

Will Jennings superintendent Tiffany Anderson leave?

Dale Singer
Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Tiffany Anderson, whose performance as superintendent of the Jennings School District has raised the schools’ accreditation and garnered national acclaim, is one of two finalists for the superintendent post in Topeka, Kan. Will she be moving on? St. Louis Public Radio’s education reporter Dale Singer discussed the possibility.

"I understand the school board met last night and settled on a candidate but they haven't announced it yet," Singer said. "They're trying to come up with a final contract. That announcement could come as early as later this afternoon or evening. If she were to leave, it would be a big blow to Jennings. They've gone from very shaky to accredited. A lot of people have said that she is doing with students who live in poverty what a lot of school districts can do."

Singer said that Anderson would have impetus to move because her family lives in Kansas City and she's been commuting to be with them since she took the job in St. Louis. A job as superintendent in Topeka would put her closer to that family.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.